Dr. Heather Hill-Vásquez, Department of English, University of Detroit Mercy


ENL 320

Study Questions - The Seventh Seal


1. A fair amount of scholars and critics of the film have emphasized its use of contrasts (e.g., intellect vs. action; lust vs. love; bigotry vs. tolerance; cowardice vs. courage, etc.). Look for these and more complex contrasts in the movie and discuss their implications.

2. Throughout the film, scenes are presented with high contrasts between bright light and dark shadows. Pick one scene that contains such a contrast and analyze how it connects to the meaning of the selected scene. Make sure you move beyond merely summarizing the scene.

3. Compare the Squire and the Knight. To what kinds of beliefs do each subscribe? How do these beliefs compare to issues raised in recent lectures and discussions we have had regarding the Middle Ages after 1066? What primary texts seem to correspond to these beliefs?

4. What might account for the fate of the players/actors at the end of the film--especially in comparison to the fate of the other characters? Consider our discussion of the "re-creative" use of the religious drama in the later Middle Ages.

5. What qualities and/or themes does the movie share with the mystical texts or mystical aspects of the texts we have been reading in Unit II? Don't forget to consider the mystical aspects of Morte Darthur and other examples of Arthurian texts we have read.

6. What examples of humor can you find in the film? Do they strike you as odd--especially to contemporary sensibilities regarding Christianity? Explain.

7. Compare the actor/player Jof's vision of the Virgin Mary teaching the Christ child to walk with one of the mystical texts read during Unit II. Which mystics share an interest in Christ as a child and why? Does Jof's vision suggest that he has a perspective on Christianity and religious faith that is different from other characters' perspectives in the film? Explain.

8. The "strawberry scene" in the movie has often been interpreted in relation to Eucharistic symbolism. Given our discussions regarding transubstantiation belief in the Middle Ages, analyze the scene in connection with Eucharistic symbolism and meaning in one of the primary texts read for Unit II.


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